Federal Federal File

Memoirs of a Deputy Secretary

By Michelle R. Davis — May 24, 2005 1 min read
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Since leaving the No. 2 position at the Department of Education in January, Eugene W. Hickok has been hunkered down writing in his Carlisle, Pa., home.

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Mr. Hickok is working on a book about the federal No Child Left Behind Act. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the law was crafted and how its implementation has unfolded.

“I was sort of in the perfect position to write this, as a former state chief and school board member, and sitting where I was at the department overseeing implementation of the law,” said Mr. Hickok, who had previously served as Pennsylvania’s secretary of education and on the board of the 4,800-student Carlisle Area School District.

The former deputy secretary of the federal Education Department said the book would look at both the policy and politics of the law, a still-developing saga as several states are resisting the law’s mandates.

“This is a relatively unique thing in American politics: federal law leveraging a whole lot of state action,” he said in an interview last week.

The 3-year-old school accountability law championed by President Bush is at a critical stage, Mr. Hickok said. Education Department officials had predicted early on that this third year of implementation would be the most difficult, with more of the law’s accountability measures taking effect.

“The states are coming in with all kinds of concerns, but my major hope is that [department officials] hold the line on the law,” Mr. Hickok said.

But don’t expect his book to dish dirt on his Bush administration colleagues, such as former Secretary of Education Rod Paige or current Secretary Margaret Spellings , who helped craft the law in 2001 from her position as White House domestic-policy chief..

“It’s not a kiss-and-tell book,” Mr. Hickok said. But do expect to get a peek inside the Education Department, which under this administration has tended to be tight-lipped with the press.

Mr. Hickok said he’s halfway done writing the first draft of the book, but doesn’t yet have a publisher. And though he’s in discussions with a variety of organizations including think tanks, lobbying firms, and universities about a new job, he hasn’t decided what his next professional move will be.

When it appears, Mr. Hickok’s book may have competition for the best-seller list: Former Secretary Paige is writing a book of his own, about the achievement gap.

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